..... I stayed with the lineman job until I entered the military on Feb. 12, 1952. On Feb. 13 I was sworn in at Fort Omaha, from there to Camp Crowder, MO to be processed. Then I went to Fort Riley, Kansas for basic training; 16 weeks of Infantry basic. They ran us and put us thru exercises until our muscles hurt so bad we couldn’t walk. Then a couple days rest and back to the same grind. Finished basic the latter part of June and signed up for leadership school. That was even worse. Pretty rough training.
After Leadership school we got overseas orders; mine was to EUCOM Europe but when we got ready to ship out my records were lost so I had to stay behind all by myself. After about a week they found my records and I got new orders to FECOM Korea. After a furlough I reported to Ft. Lawton, Washington near Seattle and spent about a week there. Not very fancy; it had been a World War II prison camp. About the first part of October we boarded the USS Marine Adder, a liberty ship bound for Yokahama, Japan via Alaska. About 10 days later we arrived in Japan and went to Camp Drake, north of Tokyo, where I was assigned to serve in Co. H 5th RCT. Back to the ship and on to Pusan, Korea where we arrived a few days later. We got on a train right away and headed north to the front line. First part of November.
We were taken by truck into the Punchbowl where I started on a quad 50 machine gun. It wasn't too bad there; just a few round coming in. Just before Thanksgiving we moved back to a reserve area where we had some more training. The first part of December I got pneumonia and got out of the hospital just in time for Christmas. On New Years Eve we went back to the front; thru the Punchbowl and to hill 1243 on the main line of resistance with a water cooled heavy 30 machine gun. We had about 35 of these guns in the company; two guys on each one; somebody had to be on the gun 24 hours a day.
The Chinese welcomed us with bugles and speakers blaring, "Welcome 5th RCT. You will not leave alive." Then they shot at us with their machine guns the rest of the nite. Scared hardly describes the feeling. I never knew I could get so flat on the ground. It was very cold on that mountain, one guy had a thermometer and it was minus 30 to minus 40 at nite and got up to about minus 10 daytime with the wind always blowing. It was about 5 weeks before my turn came to walk down the mountain and get a shower and clean clothes. I was so dirty my skin was cracking open but I felt like new walking back up. We stayed on this mountain for 6 weeks and it was the most miserable time of my life with the Chinks shooting at us and the weather didn't help a bit. After we went back to reserves again I was assigned to the 81MM mortar platoon.
A couple of weeks later I was transferred to the 65th Inf. Reg., a Puerto Rican regiment that had bugged out and lost their colors. A few guys from every unit in Korea were sent there to rebuild the outfit. I started as a squad leader with the mortars. The Puerto Ricans hated us and did everything they could to make it rough for us, so when I had a chance to go to NCO school I took it. At least it was a month away from this hassle and far away from the front. I thought I was far enough south that nobody would shoot at me but I was wrong. On a nice Sunday springtime afternoon I decided to go for a walk. As I was returning to camp a bullet cracked past my head. I dropped to the ground and laid there as if I was hit. After a short time somebody dressed in white jumped up and ran back over the hill.
After I got back to my unit we went to defend Outpost Harry. A few nites after we got into position the Chinks attached and we dropped mortar rounds on them all nite. We had cooks, clerks and everybody who wasn't busy opening ammo. About 6,000 rounds that nite, with 18 charges on each round. The maximum charges you are supposed to use is six. I have never been able to hear right ever since that nite. A few days later some rounds came in and I caught a fragment of steel in my hand. The medics came and wrapped it up and said "you'll get a Purple Heart for this" but that's the last I ever heard about it.
Our next position was on Sugarloaf, just across the river from Papasan mountain. There was a smaller hill to the left of Papasan and I could always hear tanks and trucks behind it. I was platoon leader by then and was the forward observer; calling in the fire from our guns. On the fourth of July I decided to see if I could make some fireworks. I call back and had the guys drop a few rounds in different spots behind that hill; hoping to get a secondary explosion. All at once the ground shook beneath me and flames shot high into the air. It was a fuel dump. I called back and told the men to keep firing. As they dropped rounds in the flames shot up higher and higher. The fire burned most of the afternoon. No more activity behind the hill after that.
About a week later 8 Chinese divisions hit our line just a few miles east of Sugarloaf; pushed the line back 7 miles. Kumsong Bulge. There were only ground troops; no tanks or trucks to bring up supplies. They had no gas. I burned it all up. Do you suppose I might have had a small part in changing this war or at least this battle? Must not have; nobody pinned any medals on me.
After the big push settled down I was sent on a suicide mission. I and three other men were sent five miles into no mans land, with a mortar and lots of flares. If the Chinese attacked again we were to fire flares as long as we could. Lucky for us they didn’t attack and we were back to our own lines in about 10 days. About this time I got my Sergeant stripes and a few days later the war ended. On Aug. 29, 1953; my birthday, I got my orders to go home.
After about 10 days of processing I boarded the liberty ship Gen. A.W. Brewster at Inchon on a Sunday morning and sailed out about noon. About half way across the ocean we ran into a typhoon, 3 days of it. Was really rough. Two weeks after leaving Inchon we sailed under the Golden Gate bridge. What a good feeling to be back. We went from San Francisco to Camp Stoneman and then on a train bound for home.